Worried by widespread complaints of diversion of fuel subsidy removal palliatives, a human rights group, COMPPART Foundation for Justice and Peace – building, has called on the Akwa Ibom State government and the Palliatives Distribution Committee, to urgently set-up an effective feedback mechanism to monitor the distribution of palliatives across the 31 local government areas of the state.
Governor Umo Eno, had on September 6, flagged – off the disbursement of the palliatives at his Ikot Ekpene Udo village, with each of the 2,272 villages expected to get 40 bags of rice for onward distribution by the village councils to beneficiaries mostly drawn from the very poor homes.
While flagging – off the distribution, the governor had explained that the items were meant for the very poor, warning that whoever diverted the items should expect curse upon their heads, and prayed that God should turn such people to also be in the position of those they cheated.
However, LEADERSHIP gathered the items have been looted by village heads and members of the palliative disbursement team at the grassroots level, in most of the LGAs including Etinan, Etim Ekpo, Nsit Atai, and many others.
Lamenting their ordeal, a resident of Ikot Nseyen community in Etinan LGA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that only 30 bags were shared to the villagers, alleging that the village head and his council could not explain how 10 bags got missing.
However, speaking in an interview in Uyo, the state capital in a forum tagged: “Policing Palliative Distribution and Securing the Beneficiaries”, the executive director of the organisation, Saviour Akpan, recalled the COVID-19 experience and other instances where some traditional leaders were alleged to have diverted what was meant for their poor subjects, saying such imperative should inform the setting up of an effective feedback mechanism.
He explained that such mechanisms would help the state government receive general information, complaints of sharp practices, as well as commendations from various communities across the state, while also guarding against human rights violations.
According to him, the feedbacks could also serve as a parameter for assessing the level of success or otherwise of the exercise, and as well provide first-hand information for the government to finger any village head or community leader found to have indulged in a disgraceful act.
He said: “Government should immediately set up a feedback mechanism or possibly, a toll-free line where citizens can call to give feedback whether or not they received the palliative as was directed. And government should endeavour to make whatever information received available to the public. This will help prevent human rights violation that may arise as a result of the distribution.”
Besides, Akpan, commended Eno, for augmenting the palliative package, saying the governor’s people-oriented policies since assumption of office have portrayed him as a true leader committed to the welfare of his people.